Friday, June 10, 2011

Justin Fornal - Canzo Empyrean and various works

My ex-friend of mine randomly stumbled upon the trailer for Canzo Empyrean several years back. I don't know how, but it only had like 17 views at the time and even years after it was posted it never rose above three or four hundred (this was before someone retitled it as "G.I. Joe movie trailer," jettisoning its views to over a million). Anyways, it was too elaborate to be an "art joke" and too crazy to have been made without the desire to show off its surreal and psychedelic brilliance, but we always had a good time getting baked out of minds and watching the trailer and showing it friends (scaring a few). But crazy is just what NYC underground filmmaker Justin Fornal might be.

We tried contacting him once about getting a copy of Canzo Empyrean because information on it outside of its incredibly ambiguous and somewhat unnerving website (, was non existant. Then one day a clip from the film came up on Youtube which caught our attention due to a mysterious phone number posted at the end. After much contemplation, and being really curious to see the film, we gave the number a shot. A man with a deep and brooding voice answered and we asked him how we could come by a copy a Canzo. He told us to give him an email address where he could send us instructions on obtaining a copy of the film. A few days later the email came, it was very professional, and consisted of a set of 'instructions.' We had to tag with spray paint the Canzo Empyrean logo on 20 items in our city, one of them being a police car (!), and document our graffiti with pictures. After that he said he would send us a unique watermarked copy, which he threateningly and austerely added that he would be able to identify if it popped up online anywhere and that "serious consequences would ensue." Anyways we never ended up tagging a police car (or anything else for that matter), but the point was made clear - this man was entirely dedicated to keeping his film very, very far underground (so far in fact, that out of the 2 screenings I've heard about one was done in the subterranean lairs of the sewers under NYC, shown to a group of dwellers who lived down there - the other in Monrovia, Liberia - "yes, this guy is definitely 'hardcore'")

Outside of Canyo, which I like to discuss further if I had the time, Fornal shows his lighter side, with the always bizarre and humorous, but eerily informative food show, Bronx Flavor.

"What are you wearing around your neck?"
"Where did you get it?"

and a few laugh-out-loud Bronx Flavor "commercials"

His Youtube channel is full of comic gems - spend an hour with'll be an hour well spent.

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